Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Pulling herself out of the Warcross Championships and into a dangerous new world, Emika Chen is fighting for everything. Her friends, her future, and what she believes is right for the world.
Caught between two worlds, Emika is forced to re-evaluate the world she knows. With her friends helping in secret, it's time for Emika to rise beyond her fame as a Warcross player.
Date Read: January 31, 2019
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
After having loved Warcross so much at the end of last year, I knew that I would love this book too.
It was great to be thrown back into the story, pretty much right where the last book ended. Having read the books so closely to each other, it was easy for me to get back into the plot and the characters, though I think that it would have been fine even if I had spaced out my readings a bit more. The plot is just so well-written and compelling, it's really hard to forget what happened previously.
Because this is the sequel in a duology, I felt that the pacing was not only faster than the first book, but also more even. The action really kept rolling and there was never a dull moment in the book. That's something I've really grown to appreciate about Marie Lu's writing, how she makes her action scenes so smooth and keeps her pacing so well.
I really enjoyed getting to know the characters a lot better in this book and spending more time with them. If this world were to be expanded upon in the future, I would love to spend more time with all of these characters. They were so realistic in regards to what they wanted and the lengths they were willing to go through to get them. Everything that they struggled with felt human and relatable, even though I'm not trying to save the world.
This book was able to keep me in better suspense than the first. As the plot got deeper, it also became more complicated and that helped with keeping me from figuring things out too soon. There were still some things that I saw coming before it was revealed, but for the most part, I felt like the plot was better developed so that I could be kept at bay until the reveal happened.
The video game aspect of this also grew a lot in this book. I've compared it to Ready Player One in the past because they're both about VR video games, but this is so much better. Marie Lu writes her world in a way that doesn't feel like she's this almighty author explaining computer games and virtual reality to a bunch of stupid people. She instead writes in a manner that is not only informative, but also really engaging and understandable. Anything related to computers can be pretty hard to explain through text (think of any time you've tried to explain technology to your parents), but this book did it so well. I not only felt like I understood the world of this technology through the descriptions, I also felt like I had a much better understand of what real technology could do.
It was really hard for me when I got close to the end of this book because I didn't want it to end and I didn't want to say goodbye to these characters. I felt like I had really gotten to know some new friends, friends who looked like me. Reading the last few pages were so bittersweet. It was wrapped up so well, with more than enough room for there to be more written in this world. I didn't feel like there were any loose ends at the end of the last page. Marie Lu is nothing if not great at writing satisfying endings that still leave open a possibility of further exploration in the world (basically what she's done with her Legend trilogy). I love this duology too much to try to put it into words.
Emika has made it onto my list of favorite heroines. She's strong, smart, determined, and so loving. At her core, a lot of what she does is because she cares very deeply, but she doesn't let that get in her way if it starts to become a problem. The fact that she's also great with computers is really inspiring for younger generations of girls who want to get into this area. Emika is proof that girls in fiction can also understand and be incredibly proficient in technology, so much so that she can be better than her male peers.
Hideo will always have a soft spot in my heart. Though we don't interact with him as much in this book as we do in the first book, I loved seeing the moments when we got to know him better. There's so much more to him - so much undiscovered sensitivity and softness that is yet to be fully explored. I'd love to see what else can be done with his character if other books in this world were to be written.
The Phoenix Riders are as amazing as ever. Their team dynamic is one that I have rarely read about, and I love how easily they operate together. Asher is a fantastic leader, which his teammates clearly have a great respect for. They just work so well together and I can't imagine what it would be like to be part of a team like them.
5 stars. This duology is amazing and you should read it if you like strong females, video games, virtual reality, or great stories of friendship.